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Nike and Bauer have been pumping out some rather average gear in the form of hockey skates since Nike purchased Bauer a few years ago. Unfortunately for Bauer they went from being one of the best skate makers to middle of the pack much as the result of this acquisition. However, Nike has made giant strides forward. It seems to me that Nike might be close to putting a quality hockey skate on the market for the first time. Their V series skates were a huge improvement over the items they had previously offered and it is apparent, even obvious, that they learned a great deal from the Bauer purchase.
Unfortunately while Nike remains something of a propelling force, forcing other brands to think outside of the box and make skates more comfortable, none of their own skates has truly been up to snuff yet. The V series skates have serious deficiencies that cause them to fail prematurely. In some cases they can even cause a great deal of discomfort and minor injuries to the player.
Nikes goal has always been to create an ice skate that is comfortable right out of the box. This lofty goal was never the object of any skate maker until Nike declared that it would be done. Since skates have to fit very tightly in order to function properly, it has always been assumed that a long break-in period would be required. CCM and Bauer apparently never gave the issue much thought, preferring to simply go with the this is the way it has always been approach. Forcing the hand of their competitors might be Nikes greatest contribution to hockey thus far.
But this is a recreational skate
The NDorfin is aimed at a completely different market of skaters. This soft boot is primarily an upgrade for the casual skater who is ready to upgrade from uncomfortable, poorly sharpened rental skates. The typical buyer for a pair of NDorfins will be someone who probably skates a couple times a month and is just tired of using a pair of skates that needs to be sterilized first.
Certainly the NDorfin is not intended to be a hockey skate. The boot simply arent stiff enough and the colors arent manly enough. They come in a powder blue only. However they are trimmed with enough silver and gray to keep them from looking completely silly though so dont let the colors throw you.
The boot on the endorphin is pretty similar to the construction of Nikes Quest series in appearance. The exterior is typically flash Nike - mostly grey and silver materials with a splash of blue. Of course there is a swoosh on the outside heel of each skate.
The biggest visual difference between the NDorfin and the Quest is probably the lacing system. The Quest series skates had traditional eyelets all the way up the boot. The Endorifin in contrast has plastic horizontal tube-style eyelets. These require the use of round laces rather than flat ones normally used in hockey skates. Further at the top of the skate there is a large Velcro strap that creates most of the ankle support and a handy place to tuck your laces so they dont come untied make you trip and look silly.
The inside of the boot is a great deal different. It is lined with a rather plush and highly padded material. A good comparison would be to visualize putting your foot inside of a firm pillow. The Quest hockey skates would be a bit more akin to putting your foot in a wooden shoe.
Needless to say, the endorphin is a pretty comfortable boot. They are rather narrow. The width is a pretty big contrast to the newer Nike hockey skates - among the widest things on the market. Some customers that I fit in these found the width a little confining. However as they ran almost twice the dollar amount of the other recreational skates that I carried, there might have been motivations other than fit at play there.
The holder on the NDorfin is a standard TUUK. This is a hockey holder and blade so if you plan on doing simple jumps at recreational skates, this combination likely wont work for you. As mentioned, despite the hockey holder and blade, the NDorfin is not intended to be a hockey skate.
The TUUK is one of the standards of hockey. These holder have been on the market for over 20 years now. They are well proven and durable. The TUUK offers a good deal of skating agility as well. Standard rocker size on a TUUK is 9 feet. (Rocker is the diameter of the circle that the blade would create if you created a curve from the bottom part you skate on). Typical rockers for a figure skate blade run much larger, generally over 13 feet. This allows skaters to turn and maneuver much more quickly on TUUK holders than they would on rental figure skates.
Conversely if you have been skating on figure skates and are considering switching to these, you will have a little bit of adjustment time. At first you will likely feel less stable from front to back. It will seem as if you are pitching forward and backward. Also acceleration will be a little different as you find the right portion of the blade to push from. But dont be dismayed, it shouldnt take more than 2 or three sessions before you are used to skating on your new TUUKs.
The steel in the standard TUUK is carbon steel. This is what you will actually find in most hockey and figure skates that cost under $100. While stainless steel is harder and holds its edge better, carbon will work just fine for infrequent trips to the rink. In fact if you are only skating a couple of times monthly you will likely only need to get these skates sharpened two or three times a year. At that rate stainless blades would probably only save you one trip for sharpening a year.
Nike did a nice job filling in a gap here. The NDorfin is a very comfortable boot for a pretty reasonable price. Nike does charge a little more than some of their competitors do for this type of skate. A more typical price for a pure recreational skate is about $50. Still skaters who are ready to step up to their own skates shouldnt be too distressed for spending $75 for a pair of skates. Heck, its hard to find a decent pair of shoes for much less than that these days.
The NDorfin will last the typical recreational skater for many years as well. Unlike Nikes hockey skates, there havent been any catastrophic failures of NDorfins reported to me. A few skaters that I sold a pair to have informed me that they are pretty happy with their skates more than a year later.
Other reviews that you might find helpful:
Hockey Skate buying demystified
Bauer Impact 75 Skates
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